• Friday, Aug. 14, 2015
Incentives Lure American Horror Story, Veep To Calif.
Moyra Lock

California lawmakers’ decision last year to expand the state’s film and TV tax credit program is paying dividends. Just a couple of months ago, the initiative has attracted four shows from other states: FX Networks’ American Horror Story is moving from Louisiana to California; HBO’s Veep is coming over from Maryland; VH1’s Hindsight is changing venues from Atlanta; and ABC’s Secrets and Lies is relocating from North Carolina.

American Horror Story is reportedly tapping into an estimated $9 million tax credit for moving to California. Veep comes in at some $6.5 million. Secrets and Lies is realizing some $5.7 million. And Hindsight will receive a tax credit amounting to some $3.9 million.

Six new TV series are receiving credits: HBO’s Utopia with $19.6 million, and Westwood at $12 million; CBS’ Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, ABC’s Code Black and Fox medical drama Rosewood. The latter three shows are benefiting from tax credits each in the $5 million to $6.4 million range.

Tourism Theme At Cineposium
Film tourism will be the theme for the Association of Film Commissioners International’s (AFCI) 2015 Cineposium slated for September 24-26 in Barcelona, Spain.

Cineposium attendees will gain insights into the economic added value that on-location filming brings to regions and communities. For example, New Zealand saw tourism soar to over $3 billion in 2014, up $7 million from the previous year due to the popularity of the Hobbit franchise. And after the 2011 release of Dolphin Tale, the St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Florida area reported a 72 percent increase in tourism to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium as a result of the film.

At Cineposium in September, Moyra Locke, head of marketing, communications and audiences for North Ireland Screen, the government-backed lead agency in Northern Ireland for the film, television and digital content industry, will discuss how her country is increasing tourism thanks to Game of Thrones and what her office is doing in partnership with tourism bureau Visit Ireland and HBO to promote and manage access to major locales.

Brazilian Film Commission Network Connects With AFCI
Kevin Clark, AFCI executive director, and Steve Solot, exec director of the recently created Brazilian Film Commission Network REBRAFIC (Rede Brasileira de Film Commissions), announced a new basic framework agreement for the mutual exchange of resources and benefits between their organizations.

According to the new Agreement, the AFCI will place the REBRAFIC logo and contact information on its website, so that producers will have access to all REBRAFIC member film commissions. In addition, the members of REBRAFIC shall have access to AFCI University Courses.

The Brazilian Film Commission Network will join the AFCI worldwide network of more than 300 film commissions representing six continents, devoted to serving the motion picture, television, commercial, digital and interactive media industry by supplying essential goods and services for the business of facilitating film and television production activity, which generates billions of dollars annually.

Swiss Army Man Wraps 2-Week Shoot in San Mateo
Swiss Army Man, written and directed by Daniels (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), wrapped a two-week film shoot on the San Mateo County, Calif. coast.  Starring Daniel Radcliffe from the Harry Potter series, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) and Paul Dano (from There Will Be Blood) Swiss Army Man was another feature film project to film extensively in the area due to the California Film Incentive Program designed to “keep film jobs in California”.

The Swiss Army Man production, alone, booked over 800 hotel rooms in San Mateo County/Silicon Valley. They also hired local caterers and film industry professionals, and the production crew ate in local restaurants, hired local cars, used our local services and paid land owners filming location fees to film on their properties.

This is just one of many feature films that have shot in our region.  Most recently, Redwood Shores saw filming from Terminator Genisys, the fifth in the Terminator series, and The Boat Builder filmed in Pacifica.  Other recent major feature film productions that have had portions shot in San Mateo County and Palo Alto include Chasing Mavericks, The Master, The Internship, and JOBS.  Numerous independent films, commercials, documentaries, TV shows and still shoots have been shot in the area as well.

These film projects have generated millions of dollars over the years for the area and were coordinated through the San Mateo County/Silicon Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau & Film Commission.

  • Thursday, May. 14, 2015
Hot Locations: Film Incentive Program Created For U.S. Virgin Islands
"The Green Room," lensed in Oregon.

Governor Kenneth Mapp has signed Bill #31-0009 creating a film production program in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Highlights of the program are as follows (info from Cast & Crew Entertainment Services, LLC):

Establishes a transferable tax credit equal to 10%-17%  of the first $500,000 of each resident’s  compensation (rate is dependent on the percentage of the workforce made up of Virgin Island residents);
Establishes a rebate of up to 9% of qualified production expenditures;
Allows an additional rebate equal to 10% of qualified production expenditures if the production includes a qualified Virgin Islands promotion;
Allows an additional rebate equal to 10% of qualified production expenditures if qualified production activities take place on the island of St. Croix;
Provides for an annual cap for the program of at least $2.5 million;
Requires a minimum of 20% of the workforce (including extras and day players) to be made up of Virgin Island residents; and,
Requires a minimum spend of $250,000. 

Oregon Lensing
The second quarter of 2015 has seen assorted commercial shoots in Oregon, according to Tim Williams, executive director of the Oregon Governor’s Office of Film and Television, aka Oregon Film.
On the TV front, Oregon is welcoming back IFC’s Portlandia for season six, and the second season of TNT’s The Librarians.

As for features, the Oregon-lensed The Green Room has been chosen for Cannes’ Directors Fortnight which began May 14 and runs through May 24. Directed by Jeremy Saulnier, the film centers on a band of punk rockers who find themselves trapped in a secluded venue, fighting for their lives against a gang of neo-Nazis. The Green Room’s cast includes Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Patrick Stewart, Alia Shawkat, Callum Turner and Joe Cole. The film marks a return engagement for Saulnier at Cannes. His Blue Ruin made the final cut for the 2013 Directors’ Fortnight.

Louisiana Proposals
Several bills are in the legislature relative to Louisiana’s film production incentive program. Here are two of the bills and their featured provisions (info from Cast & Crew Entertainment Services, LLC):

House Bill 704 would amend the program as follows:
Beginning January 1, 2016, provides for a funding cap in the amount of $150 million per calendar year:
Credits will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis;
If the total credits applied for in any particular year exceed the aggregate amount of credits allowed for that year, the excess will be treated as having been applied for on the first day of the subsequent year.

Meanwhile House Bill 213 proposes the following changes:

Effective January 1, 2016, creates a program funding cap of $50 million per year:
If the total amount of the tax credits is exceeded, the excess shall not be rolled over into the subsequent year;
Replaces the first-come, first-served aspect of the existing program with preference given to productions that provide the greatest economic return to the state based on the following factors:
The percentage of payroll spent on the employment of Louisiana residents;
The impact of the production on the overall economy of the state, including the percentage of production expenditures expended in the state;
Whether the production company has paid Louisiana corporate franchise taxes or whether the production company has deducted and withheld Louisiana income tax on wages earned by employees of the production company in the state of Louisiana;
Whether the production company has used an animated state brand or logo, or both. 

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down
One governor signed, another vetoed legislation relative to incentive programs in Colorado and Utah, respectively (info from Cast & Crew Entertainment Services, LLC).

On April 24, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 234, which appropriates $3 million to the film rebate program for the 2016 fiscal year (July 1-June 30).

Also last month, Senate Bill 278 was vetoed by Utah Governor Gary Herbert. It proposed to amend the Motion Picture Incentive Fund rebate program by increasing the per project cap from $500,000 to $2.5 million.

Maryland Bill Pending
Senate Bill 905 proposes to amend Maryland’s existing film incentives program as follows (info from Cast & Crew Entertainment Services, LLC):

Creates a reserve fund which is a special continuing non-lapsing fund for film incentives;
Beginning with the 2017 fiscal year and each fiscal year thereafter, it is the intent of the General Assembly for the Governor to include in the budget an appropriation to the reserve fund in an amount equal to the amount to:
Maintain the current level of film production in the state: and, 
Attract new film production activity in the state.
Requires a five second long static or animated logo in the end credits before the below-the-line crew crawl, for feature films;
Requires an embedded five second long static or animated logo for a television series;
Provides for alternative marketing opportunities in lieu of the logo requirements; and,
Eliminates the sunset date of the program.

  • Thursday, Mar. 26, 2015
AFCI Locations: Incentives Update in California, Nevada, Missouri
Eric Preiss, director of the Nevada Film Office

A session introducing California’s newly expanded and extended filming incentive program drew a capacity turnout earlier this month at the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) Locations Show 2015 in Los Angeles. Amy Lemisch, executive director of the California Film Commission (CFC), which administers the incentives tax credit initiative, and program director Amy Stone, also of the CFC, made the presentation.

Among the highlights of what is now known as California’s Film & TV Tax Credit 2.0 are: Program funding has been increased from $100 million to $300 million annually; eligibility has been expanded to include big budget features, one-hour TV series (for any distribution outlet) and TV pilots; budget caps have been eliminated for studio and independent films yet while there are no caps, the tax credit program will apply only to each project’s first $100 million in qualified spending (for studio films) or the first $10 million (for indie films); the existing tax credit lottery is being eliminated as projects will instead by selected based on a “jobs ratio” formula and other ranking criteria; penalty provisions have been set for projects that overstate job creation; the single allocation period annually will be replaced by multiple allocation periods throughout the year (application period schedules and instructions are being developed); and a 5 percent “uplift” has been established for productions shot outside Greater L.A.’s 30-Mile Zone, as well as for visual effects and music scoring/recording performed in-state.

A 20 percent tax credit is in place for qualifying in-state spending on non-independent productions, including features, movies of the week and miniseries, new TV series and TV pilots, with 25 percent allotted for indie projects and relocating TV series (for their first year filming in California). To be eligible, 75 percent of a project’s principal photography days or total budget must take place or be spent in California.

Producers tapping into the tax credits must also engage in educational/training opportunities for high school and community college students. This can take the form of providing paid or unpaid internships or apprenticeships; conducting workshops, lectures or demos; making financial or equipment contributions to a school or program; and producing extracurricular resources such as how-to videos.

A restoration of funding in Nevada?
Last year a major Nevada filming incentives program had its funding cut dramatically--from $80 million to $10 million covering a four-year period which began in January 2014. Catalyst for the cutback was legislation which provided Tesla Motors with more than $1 billion worth of financial incentives in exchange for the company bringing its battery factory to Nevada. To help offset the cost of the Tesla package, state legislators made other cuts, including $70 million in film subsidies.

However, a bill has been introduced in Nevada’s legislature which would restore the original filming incentives program funding. The measure is currently under consideration, according to a production incentives update presented by Joe Bessacini, Cast & Crew’s VP of film and TV production incentives, during an AFCI Locations panel discussion. Later, on the AFCI Locations exhibit floor, SHOOT received confirmation of the state bill from Eric Preiss, director of the Nevada Film Office.

Preiss noted that the current session of the Nevada legislature, which began in February, runs through May. The Nevada Film Office is waiting to find out the outcome of the bill which, if passed, would restore the original level of funding for the state filming incentives program. Once the decision on that bill is made--one way or the other--Preiss said that the Nevada Film Office would formulate and implement its big picture plan accordingly, doing the best it can to attract, retain and serve producers filming in the state.

Under the incentives program, companies that spend a minimum of $500,000 and shoot at least 60 percent of their project in Nevada are eligible for a transferable tax credit of 15 to 19 percent of qualified production expenditures.  The film incentives package applies to projects ranging from theatrical features to TV, commercials, digital content and branded entertainment. The minimum threshold of $500,000 can be reached cumulatively, meaning that multiple commercials or pieces of branded content, for example, shot in Nevada during the course of the year can collectively qualify for the tax credit.

Show-Me State
A Missouri Senate Bill proposes to create a new film incentive program, which allows for a transferable tax credit equal to 20 percent of qualified expenses.

Other provisions of the proposed program include: an additional 5 percent may be earned on all qualifying expenses if at least 50 percent of the project is shot in Missouri; an annual funding cap of $4.5 million; a new sunset date of November 28, 2021; an exclusion of all compensation and wages paid to an individual earning more than $250,000; and the required inclusion of a statement or a logo about Missouri in the screen credits.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014
Animated Series “Dora And Friends” Generates Millions of Dollars For NY State
"Dora and Friends: Into The City"

Empire State Development (ESD), New York's chief economic development agency,  highlighted the fiscal benefits resulting from the postproduction animation of “Dora and Friends: Into the City” in New York State. The new children’s television series spent approximately $1 million in the State on post production costs, hired 80 New Yorkers, and generated over $5 million in non-post production spending for local New York vendors. The series is the Empire State’s first fully-animated television show since Governor Andrew M. Cuomo extended and enhanced the film and television tax credit in 2013 to facilitate postproduction work for animation.

The first season of the show, which begins broadcasting this week on Nickelodeon, will include 20 half-hour episodes and is a spinoff series from “Dora the Explorer,” which, according to Nickelodeon, is the most watched pre-school age show of all time. The new series follows Dora and her friends’ adventures in the fictional city of Playa Verde.

“The new post production incentive for animation was a key factor in our decision to keep postproduction in New York,” said Teri Weiss, executive VP of original programming, Nickelodeon Preschool Television.

In 2012, Governor Cuomo championed and signed into law legislation that was designed to help New York State compete for postproduction business and jobs, a fast-growing segment of the motion picture and television industry. The law boosted the available postproduction tax credit from 10 percent to 30 percent (for post-production work in the New York metropolitan commuter region), and from 10 percent to 35 percent (for postproduction work done Upstate.) Last year, when the film and TV tax credit program was enhanced and extended, programmatic changes included lowering the postproduction threshold for visual effects and animation on qualified New York expenses from 75 percent to 20 percent or $3 million of the total animation budget (whichever is lower).

These enhancements have helped to significantly grow postproduction in New York, particularly by attracting work from films shot outside the state and to have the postproduction work done by New York companies.  Since taking effect, 140 productions have applied for postproduction work in New York--more than eight times the number of applications received during a two-year period under the previous tax credit--which will generate more than $130 million in direct spending. Furthermore, 13 post companies have established new operations, including three Upstate.

Yana Collins Lehman, co-chair of Post New York Alliance, said, “VFX and animation companies in New York have never been busier. Governor Cuomo recognized early on that getting aggressive with the film and TV incentive was the surest way to attract to New York the kinds of projects that have, for years, been leaving the country. And it’s working! Companies are expanding within, and relocating to New York. And great jobs in VFX and animation are coming here, almost faster than we can fill them.”

Postproduction includes all of the editing after filming is complete and includes visual effects, color correction, sound editing and mixing. The industry also includes thousands of other jobs, from engineers and messengers to creative and support staff. The strengthened law was designed to expand state support by specifically focusing on attracting postproduction work to communities in all corners of the state. At a time when other states are experiencing production flight, New York’s strengthened credit supports a robust industry cluster which has become a major source of direct and indirect employment and economic opportunity for hundreds of thousands of people.

Since the film tax credit program was established in 2004, it has leveraged an estimated $14 billion worth of direct spending and has been a huge job generator for New York. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the industry has experienced explosive growth since 2011, with record breaking years for productions and post production in 2013, bringing billions of dollars in new spending and thousands of jobs into New York State. The stability provided by multiyear funding has particularly encouraged the development of television series production work, as well as long term investments in infrastructure, all of which creates thousands of jobs directly and indirectly related to the actual productions themselves.

During calendar year 2013, applications for 181 film productions were submitted and included 124 films, 31 television programs, and 25 pilots and 1 relocated television show. The impact of these projects includes: Generating a direct spend of $2.09 billion in NY State; collecting a projected $466 million in credits; and hiring an estimated 126,301 actors and crew for the 181 projects submitted.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014
North Carolina establishes film production grant program
Gov. Pat McCory.

Governor Pat McCory has signed Senate Bill 744 which creates a film production grant program in North Carolina, effective January 1, 2015. Highlights of the program are as follows (info from Cast & Crew Entertainment Services, LLC):

--Establishes a grant of up to 25% on qualifying production expenditures;

--Requires a minimum spend of $5 million for feature films or $250,000 for TV series or commercials;

--Establishes a per project cap of $5 million for feature films and TV series or $250,000 for commercials;

--Establishes a cap of $10 million for the program;

--Qualifies the first $1 million of each individual’s salary or wages;

--Requires a CPA audit;

--Requires a project to provide screen credit to North Carolina in the form of a statement, logo and acknowledgment; and,

--Gives priority to productions that are reasonably anticipated to maximize the benefit to North Carolina.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014
Rep. Chu calls on Gov. Brown to approve Film and TV Tax Credit
Congresswoman Judy Chu
PASADENA, Calif. -- 

Congresswoman Judy Chu (Calif. District 27) sent a bipartisan letter to Governor Jerry Brown urging him to approve AB 1839, the California Film and Television Job Retention Promotion Act. The Act would expand tax credits on film and television production, bringing revenue and jobs back to the state. Rep. Chu released the following statement:

“When I talk to the people in my district, I hear stories from the craftsmen and women who have to leave their families for months at a time to follow film and TV productions out of state. Others are left struggling and out of work. This industry is part of California’s heritage, but because we have failed to compete with the more aggressive tax incentives in other states, we have lost almost $2 billion and tens of thousands of jobs. We know the tax incentive program works and it is great to see that we now have a number of $400 million.”

Rep. Chu’s letter to Gov. Brown was signed by 35 other members of the California delegation.

  • Friday, Jul. 25, 2014
California Picks 26
Being Mary Jane

The California Lottery isn’t the only lotto game in town. Nearly 500 projects applied last month to be considered for $100 million in state film tax credits. Of those applicants, there were but 26 winners--11 feature films, two made-for-TV movies and 13 television series.

While legislation is in the works which could expand the scope and number of productions that could tap into California’s incentives program, for now most of the applicants are on the outside looking in. This year’s 497 project applications represented a 30% increase over the entries tally in 2013.

Those qualifying for the incentives, though, have collectively yielded promising results. This is the sixth year the tax credits have been in effect, resulting in $5.39 billion in direct spending in California, including $1.7 billion in below-the-line wages, according to estimates from the California Film Commission (CFC), which administers the program. California offers tax credits of 20 to 25 percent toward qualified production expenditures such as the cost of set building, certain equipment and crew member salaries.

This year, the biggest tax credits awarded were to TV series: $11.5 million to Teen Wolf on MTV, $8.9 million to Rizzoli and Isles on TNT, and $8.4 million to Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family.

BET’s series Being Mary Jane, slated for its third year, garnered an estimated $5.2 million credit. This will enable the show to relocate its production headquarters from Atlanta to Los Angeles. T

Among the other TV series selected for California’s incentives this time around were: Sony Pictures Television’s Franklin & Bash, a show on TNT; Warner Bros. Television’s Major Crimes, also on TNT; Sony Pictures TV’s Justified, an FX show; FTP Productions’ Perception, another TNT program; and Turner North Center Productions’ Murder In The First on TNT.

Planned feature films included a Scarface reboot from Universal Pictures, and All Summer Long--A Beach Boys Musical from 20th Century Fox.

The 26 projects selected are expected to generate $802 million in direct spending in California, including $230 million in wages for below-the-line crew members. “California’s tax credit program has proven to be our most effective economic development tool for retaining and attracting production jobs, spending and tax revenues,” stated Amy Lemisch, executive director of the CFC.

  • Friday, Jul. 25, 2014
Deliver Us From Evil Delivers For NY

Filming for the movie Deliver Us From Evil was a financial boon for New York State. Lensing began on June 23, 2013, with 34 days spent filming on Long Island and in NYC. According to Sony Screen Gems, the production hired more than 700 cast and crew members and 420 extras, and provided a big boost to local vendors during filming, spending more than $1 million at area businesses for a variety of services, including catering and site fees while spending  nearly $400,000 on hotel rooms alone. Some $7 million in wages were paid to NY residents. $525,000 in taxes were generated for NY State.  In total, Deliver Us From Evil spent more than $19 million during production throughout NY State.

Kenneth Adams, president, CEO and commissioner of Empire State Development, said, “The New York State Film Production Tax Credit Program is attracting a growing number of productions to the Empire State, and movies like Deliver Us From Evil create hundreds of jobs, boost local businesses and generate revenue for our local communities.”

“Filming in New York fulfilled every one of our expectations,” said Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of Deliver Us From Evil. “New York provided a great base with its expert, talented and incredibly hard-working crews, a pool of fine local actors, and some of the most interesting and atmospheric locations imaginable. We also received tremendous assistance from the city and state authorities.”

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